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Wall Street sees lower open as Fed meeting begins

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were lower this morning, as Fed policymakers begin their two-day meeting and investors get a slew of economic data. Despite small moves for the major averages Monday, the Dow did manage to post its highest close of 2016. (CNBC)

According to the latest CNBC Fed Survey, 95 percent of respondents are expecting the central bank to leave interest rates unchanged this week. But on average, they believe the next hike will come in June. (CNBC)

U.S. crude was tracking for a second straight day of losses this morning, trading over 2 percent lower as concerns start to take hold that a six-week recovery will peter out as markets remain oversupplied. (Reuters)

Asian stocks closed mixed overnight, after the Bank of Japan did not introduce new stimulus measures at its latest policy meeting. The Japanese Nikkei 225 closed 0.68 percent lower, while the Chinese Shanghai composite gained 0.2 percent. (CNBC)

European stocks followed their Asian counterparts lower this morning, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index falling 1 percent. (CNBC)

Today is a big day for presidential candidates from both parties, as they get ready for key primaries that include Ohio and Florida. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was leading Bernie Sanders by 27 points in Florida, according to the latest NBC/WSJ/Marist poll. In Ohio, however, Clinton's lead was much narrower, according to recent polls. (NBC News)

On the GOP side, Donald Trump was looking to solidify his quest for the nomination. The business mogul was leading Marco Rubio by more than 20 points in the Florida senator's home state, according to the latest NBC/WSJ/Marist poll. But Trump was slightly behind John Kasich in the home state of the Ohio governor. For Republicans, Florida and Ohio are winner-take-all primaries. (WSJ)

The head of the defense committee in Russia's upper house said today that approximately 1,000 Russian troops would remain in Syria after Vladimir Putin ordered his armed forces to begin their withdrawal. (CNBC)

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is trying to sell new securities that would place most of the credit risk on $1.9 billion mortgages, in an attempt to jump-start the debt market. (WSJ)

Three AIG (AIG) units will pay over $9.5 million as part of a settlement to allegations that they steered clients toward more expensive mutual fund share classes in order to collect more fees. (Reuters)

Almost 300 institutional investors in Volkswagen have filed a multi-billion euro suit against the German automaker for what they see as breaches of its capital markets duty in the emissions scandal. (Reuters)

Avon Products (AVP) is cutting about 2,500 jobs and also plans to move its corporate headquarters to the U.K. from the U.S. The cosmetics maker will take a $60 million charge for job cuts during the current quarter. (AP)

A Verizon (VZ) unit signed a direct connection deal with Cuban state monopoly Etecsa, expanding on existing roaming services in the country. (Reuters)

Sony (SNY) signed a deal to buy Michael Jackson's stake in the Sony/ATV music publishing operation for $750 million. Sony/ATV is the world's largest music publisher. (AP)

Activist investor Starboard Value has lowered its stake in Darden (DRI) to 5.2 percent from 8.1 percent, according to an SEC filing.

BY THE NUMBERS

A flood of data awaits investors this morning, even as they look ahead to tomorrow's Fed decision. February retail sales and consumer prices, along with the March Empire State survey, are out at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Retail sales are seen posting a 0.1 percent decline for last month after January's 0.2 percent rise, while the Producer Price Index is expected to fall 0.2 percent after rising 0.1 percent in January.

The "core" inflation rate — which excludes food and energy — should rise 0.1 percent, according to consensus forecasts. The Empire State survey's index is seen at negative 10.0 for March, less negative than February's negative 16.6 reading.

At 10 a.m. ET, economists expect January business inventories to come in flat after they rose 0.1 percent in December. And the monthly sentiment index from the National Association of Home Builders is expected to rise to 59 for March from February's 58.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) is among the companies out with earnings this morning, after CEO Michael Pearson's medical leave delayed the release. Quarterly profit was below estimates. But revenue beat. The company also cut its revenue forecast for the year.

Amazon.com (AMZN) is launching AWS Data Migration Service today, a business that will help companies transport data from their own computers to Amazon data centers.

Toyota (TM) is close to a deal to raise monthly wages in Japan by 1,500 yen (about $13), half of the increase its labor unions had sought.

General Motors (GM) and ride-sharing service Lyft unveiled a new car rental joint venture, which will make cars available for rent to both Lyft customers and Lyft drivers.

WATERCOOLER

A few coveted Ferraris helped offset weakness in other models at a classic cars auction at Amelia Island, Florida. Sales were $134 million, topping last year's $115 million. (CNBC)

Mike Tyson's former Las Vegas mansion just went on the market, according to a local listing, for $1.5 million. The 5,740 square-foot property is just about a 20-minute drive away from the Strip. (CNBC)